WEB BASED TRAINING UNITS IN GI SCIENCE: APPLYING THE POTENTIAL OF NEW MEDIA TO CLASS AND SELF TEACHING OF GEOINFORMATION CONCEPTS AND APPLICATIONS
J.-A. Schwarz, H. Asche
University of Potsdam, Department of Geography, Potsdam, Germany
Effective generation of knowledge is one of the pivotal challenges in the 21st century. Information and communication technologies like the New Media penetrate all spheres of daily life. They facilitate our access to gigantic pools of data, which constitute the indispensable foundation for the generation of knowledge. At the same time, we often feel helpless in the face of this continuing flood of data.
New media play an important role in the communication in the geospatial sciences. Internet-based distribution of maps augmented with supplementary information (audio sequences, film clips) mirror this development. Against this background this presentation discusses whether the application of new media in teaching geoinformation (GI) knowledge can be considered an added value in usability and comprehensibility. The proven significance of visualisation to communicate and comprehend complex facts coupled with the competence to employ new media tools and methods is the starting point of this approach.
Considering learning as a communication process in the construction of knowledge forms the basis for the development of augmented teaching and learning material. This concept implies that a person developing those multimedia learning material can tap potentials that effectively support this process.
Instructional and media-specific treatment is identified as relevant starting points to improve communication of GI knowledge. At the centre of the instructional processing is the problem-based communication of spatial analysis concepts and GI tools. For that purpose, a use-case approach is being followed in the web-based training units developed, presenting real-world problems that require the students to acquire and apply the GI methods and tools. To effectively support problem-based learning of complex spatial information, the power of visualisation and animation is utilised to present and communicate the spatial problems and methods to be applied for their solution. The research presented here has been carried out in the framework of the joint geoinformation.net project of eight German universities.
To evaluate this multimedia approach, a group of geosciences students of Potsdam University have used the web-based units for self study before being interviewed. Focal points of this evaluation were usability, acceptance, instructional and media-specific treatment of content. Contrary to conventional teaching or self-teaching aids the majority of students interviewed expressed to have profited from working through the web-based training units. Independence of time and space for self study and individual study progress as well as the efficient communication of content based on visualisation and animation have been highlighted as the major assets.